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Old October 22, 2013, 07:45 AM   #1
Mike Irwin
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Good article in Forbes on the ammunition shortage

http://www.forbes.com/sites/frankmin...ion-shortages/

It looks at the situation in depth, ranging from claims that DHS is buying up all the free ammo to keep it out of our hands to talking to the various ammo manufacturers about what they're doing.

The best thing in the article, though, is the graphic that shows the monumental rise in the number of guns being sold (NICC transactions). That number is even higher given that private transactions are still legal in many areas.

Hopefully this article will put to rest most of the last lingering vestiges of the "IT'S THE GUBMINT KEEPING US GUNOWNERS DOWN!!!" crap that's been flying around the internet for the past couple of years.
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Old October 22, 2013, 10:00 AM   #2
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Forbes is a little late to this article... I remember reading an article EXACTLY like it back in June or July that covered the exact same soundbytes and numbers. I'm pretty sure everybody who frequents this forum has known since well before the Congressional hearing that the DHS theory was bupkis.

So I hate to break it to them, but the ammunition shortage has been over for at least a few months now. It was really over for us regular guys back around mid-July (or even late-June), with everything you could want available dozens of places online... albeit with outrageous prices, but still plentiful.

A quick trip to Gunbot/SlckGuns/Gun-Deals will confirm you can have all the ammo you want currently at around 20% higher than pre-Newtown prices.

My local Walmarts here in Virginia Beach have received their twice-weekly shipments every week since about April, and on the odd Sunday morning, I've been there at 0730 when shifts change and gotten my 3 boxes of bulk whatever-I-wanted... prices never changed.

I know that there are still some areas of the country whose Walmarts/Dicks/Academy have not been receiving regular ammo shipments, but that doesn't mean there's a shortage, it means corporate is screwing localities where they don't make as much money. Get online.

WHERE THERE IS A CONTINUING SHORTAGE is in reloading equipment and supplies. Presses and dies were started disappearing around early March when the panic was in full swing and enthusiasts who had previously never considered (or were on the fence like me) reloading jumped in with both feet when they got down to their last 100rds of WWB and the Walmart managers were laughing at them... and then ALL reloading stuff was just plain GONE for about 5 months. Primers came back in stock everywhere about 2 months ago, and bullets were always available online... but powder is just plain OUT OF STOCK instores. You can get it online at slightly inflated prices and then get stuck with a HAZMAT shipping fee that basically doubles the pre-Newtown price of a lb of powder. I just about messed my pants 2 weeks ago when I walked into my LGS and there were 2 lbs of IMR4895... like they were glowing... and only about $5 too much. I felt like I stole them. The fact that it's a month from deer season doesn't help keep things on shelves either.

Anyways, my .02.
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Old October 22, 2013, 10:10 AM   #3
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Thanks for the article. I look forward to the chance to read it.

Market activity is almost always a more plausible explanation than the acts of a government that can't even conspire to make a website run correctly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamNavy
So I hate to break it to them, but the ammunition shortage has been over for at least a few months now. It was really over for us regular guys back around mid-July (or even late-June), with everything you could want available dozens of places online... albeit with outrageous prices, but still plentiful.

A quick trip to Gunbot/SlckGuns/Gun-Deals will confirm you can have all the ammo you want currently at around 20% higher than pre-Newtown prices.
The shortages were here prior to Newtown though. Being able to get what you want but at a very high price or only with delay is evidence of a shortage.
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Old October 22, 2013, 10:10 AM   #4
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"I'm pretty sure everybody who frequents this forum has known since well before the Congressional hearing that the DHS theory was bupkis."

Yeah, you'd like to think so, but no.

If it were, it wouldn't still be cropping up here every few weeks, only to be deleted by staff.

"A quick trip to Gunbot/SlckGuns/Gun-Deals will confirm you can have all the ammo you want currently at around 20% higher than pre-Newtown prices."

Obviously the stores and dealers in Northern Virginia haven't gotten that memo yet because at most places there's still nothing on the shelves, and this isn't exactly a limited market area.

As for reloading supplies, I'll have to take your word for it, because I've got about 30 pounds of various powders and about 25,000 primers of all sorts.

I'm set for a few days, at least.
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Old October 22, 2013, 10:16 AM   #5
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So I hate to break it to them, but the ammunition shortage has been over for at least a few months now. It was really over for us regular guys back around mid-July (or even late-June), with everything you could want available dozens of places online... albeit with outrageous prices, but still plentiful.

A quick trip to Gunbot/SlckGuns/Gun-Deals will confirm you can have all the ammo you want currently at around 20% higher than pre-Newtown prices.
My son just turned 18 and I handed down a couple of 22s to him. The cheapest thing I can find online is 500 rounds at $55 with shipping. That's probably triple what I paid for 500 rounds at Walmart before the hysteria. I can load centerfire handgun ammunition cheaper than that.

Last edited by wayneinFL; October 22, 2013 at 10:31 AM. Reason: clarify saomething
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Old October 22, 2013, 12:44 PM   #6
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Obviously the stores and dealers in Northern Virginia haven't gotten that memo yet because at most places there's still nothing on the shelves, and this isn't exactly a limited market area.
The problem is that manufacturers are still filling backorders from the national chains, and those guys get served first. The regional and local shops are still down to picking what crumbs the distributors get. While things are getting visibly better, we're still not where we need to be.

That situation is most acute with .22 LR. Even shops with significant buying clout are lucky to see a couple of cases a week, and that's always a feeding frenzy from consumers.

Of course, I can't tell that to people. According to Joe Bob, the REAL reason he can't get 20,000 rounds of it rightnowtoday is because of Obama/Soros/chemtrails.

(I also recall seeing a very similar article from Forbes a few months back. Still, I'm glad to see the issue getting some clarification in the national media.)
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Old October 22, 2013, 02:14 PM   #7
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time mgmt, logistics, prices....

I haven't read the Forbes article but I will shortly.
I still do not fully understand how these ammunition firms(Remington, Black Hills, Corbon, Federal/HST, DRT, Hornady, etc) claim to working 6/7 days a week, 16-24 hours per day or "expanding" the staffs, factory areas, raw materials, etc. If these factors were true then why are the prices so high? Also, why or how is the supply(logistics) so far out of whack?
The .22LR which nearly everyone(to include the casual hunter or gun owner) thinks is a "cheap" & plentiful round is hard to purchase/find in some sections of the US. Wouldn't some high ranking exec or board member(who Im sure has huge bonuses or perks for the + upswing ) say; "we should work harder to produce the items that sell the fastest(most)"
As I've said in the past 2 years(pre-Sandy Hook 2012), the major firms blamed the "wars", red tape, the weather & a # of other things for the lack of ammunition. Im sick of the games & excuses.
It's petty & childish the way some shooting sports industry firms act(that includes some of the gun manufacturers too).

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Old October 22, 2013, 02:16 PM   #8
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Quote:
It’s easy to understand this worry. As gun sales break records—partly because of fear of coming gun control from the Obama administration—supplies of ammo ran so low that gun stores and ranges have to ration ammunition.
While that much is true, it fails to mention that a large part of the reaction is to actual new gun restriction laws passed by several states and tried by several more. It isn't just about "fear of the might happen," it is well founded concern of what just DID happen.

Overall the article has a much better gun owner perspective which is seldom if ever found in mainstream media articles. Kudos to Forbes.

Quote:
The increased demand has prompted ammunition makers in the U.S. to expand facilities, add new shifts and streamline production.
I like that part!
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Old October 22, 2013, 02:23 PM   #9
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Quote:
Also, why or how is the supply(logistics) so far out of whack?
It isn't the supply that's out of whack; it's the demand.

Case in point: we get a couple of cases of .22 a week. It's those Remington 500 packs. As soon as somebody sees them, it's like piranhas on a hippo. Every person wants to buy all of it right now gimme gimme or I scream.

That is the problem.
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Old October 22, 2013, 02:35 PM   #10
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Obviously the stores and dealers in Northern Virginia haven't gotten that memo yet because at most places there's still nothing on the shelves, and this isn't exactly a limited market area.
Strange, here in Hampton Roads, the Walmarts get regular shipments of popular calibers every Tues/Sat nights and there is plently 9mm/.45acp/.223/12ga and assortments of various other calibers on Wed/Sun mornings. It's all gone by early afternoon still, but it's there... but still people buying stuff they don't need just because, but I just can't call that a "shortage", only some people more motivated than others to buy.

The Bass Pro on 64 has cases and cases and cases of whatever you want bulk shooting stuff... not a huge variety, but plenty of bulk FMJ.

Over the past 3 months at my local Academy on Indpendence, I've managed to buy about 3k rds of various .22lr bulk packs... I just swing by anytime I'm in the neighborhood on no particular schedule and look... 50% of the time, theres a 555 Winchester Bulk Pack, and at least a few cases worth of random FMJ bulk stuff, and more 00buck than my shoulder could ever cope with.

At the SKG show at Virginia Beach Convention Center last weekend, there were a dozen vendors with stacked tables of every caliber and prices not too out of whack... limited .22lr, but it was there if you cared to pay for it.

Don't get me wrong, I wish shelves were stocked to the gills and prices would come down. And while technically anytime there is more demand than supply, there's a "shortage", I'd have trouble justifying the trouble of writing an article filled with 5 months old information when we've been on a clear upswing for more than 3 months now.

Quote:
The shortages were here prior to Newtown though. Being able to get what you want but at a very high price or only with delay is evidence of a shortage.
There's always a big demand Oct-Dec... with hunting season and the holidays for always being record setting months across all calibers for many years in a row now.

I'm hoping that ammunition manufacturers have learned some sort of lesson from all this mess though but I don't know what it might be. It's a short pendulum swing during a "shortage" to invest in larger manufacturing capacity only to have supply and demand equalize at lower-than-your-new-capacity and have machinery sitting idle... you either flood the market and prices drop so you can move product, or you start filling warehouses in anticipation of the next increase in demand and hope it comes quick. Fortunately for everyone, the numbers of NICS checks should hit over 20million this year, so the manufacturers have incentives for adding capacity... hopefully come March or so, those 100pk's of WWB and FC will be 5 high and 3 deep for the length of the shelves.
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Old October 22, 2013, 03:08 PM   #11
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"I still do not fully understand how these ammunition firms(Remington, Black Hills, Corbon, Federal/HST, DRT, Hornady, etc) claim to working 6/7 days a week, 16-24 hours per day or "expanding" the staffs, factory areas, raw materials, etc. If these factors were true then why are the prices so high?"

Do you know how long it takes to stand up an entirely new production line, and how expensive it is?

It can take a year or more to expand production, because you have to build the space, train people, and procure the machinery, none of which is fast or cheap.

A cartridge or bullet may seem as if it's a small and relatively inconsequential thing, but the machinery needed to produce is complex, highly technical, and highly expensive.
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Old October 22, 2013, 03:11 PM   #12
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"Strange, here in Hampton Roads, the Walmarts get regular shipments of popular calibers every Tues/Sat nights and there is plently 9mm/.45acp/.223/12ga and assortments of various other calibers on Wed/Sun mornings."

The two WalMarts I frequent in this area are pretty much devoid of anything other than the occasional box of shotshells or high-end ammunition.

The same with the one gun shop I was at last weekend, although their ammunition stocks did seem to be a bit higher than 3 months ago when I was there.

I've not been to a gun show around here lately because the crowds have been absolutely vicious, and I can't deal with the crowds when all I'm really going for is to look and see if I can find a reasonable deal (HA!).
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Old October 22, 2013, 03:29 PM   #13
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Post #9, post #11....

In response;
For #9: that's part of my point. The FFL holders/mgmt know what their local customers want(or buy quickly). They can relay up the chain of what's a "fast mover" & what the customers want most. .38spl, .45acp, .223/5.56mm, 7.62x39mm, 9x19mm, etc.
Sales & ammunition demands are a problem but the US firms can better manage it.
Post #11; I already know that factories/staff/logistics do not pop up in 24 hours but these major companies like ATK, Black Hills, Hornady etc have dealt with increased sales & production demands for 4/5 years.
I recall a Black Hills ad with a racecar where the ammunition factory worker said he worked 16 hours a day.
This was in 2011.
Expanding plants & training staffs will take time/effort but the shooting sports industry had record profits for the last few FYs. It's something they could have projected in 2009/2010.
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Old October 22, 2013, 03:44 PM   #14
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It's something they could have projected in 2009/2010.
They did project higher earnings after the 2009 panic, and the industry was largely prepared for the 2012 election/holiday season.

Then we had an incident at an elementary school in Connecticut, and the ensuing panic was unlike anything the industry has ever seen. Trust me, I was around when the AWB kicked in. It was nothing like the first half of 2013.

Furthermore, the panic we're currently experiencing is a temporary thing. If I was a manufacturer supplying this market, I'd increase my output as much as feasible, but there would be limits.

Would I invest tens of millions in a brand-new factory, machinery, staff, and training to cover a passing glut? Probably not.

I'm sorry if that's not the answer consumers want to hear, but that's how things work. We don't always get everything our way, and sometimes $100 PMags and a shortage on .22 LR are just things we have to live with.
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Old October 22, 2013, 03:48 PM   #15
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It seems that the normal correlation of price and demand have gone out the window. I would no more pay $55 for 500 rounds of .22 rimfire, and I would pay $50 for a "value pack" of .40 S&W, but it seems that no matter how high prices go, people are willing to pay. You might want to take a look on craigslist or similar for ammo, as people who took out a second mortgage to buy ridiculously expensive ammo are discovering that they can't eat it, and can't really heat their house with it, and Winter's coming.
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Old October 22, 2013, 03:50 PM   #16
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So I hate to break it to them, but the ammunition shortage has been over for at least a few months now. It was really over for us regular guys back around mid-July (or even late-June), with everything you could want available dozens of places online... albeit with outrageous prices, but still plentiful.
This is decidedly NOT the case in much (most) of America. I have not seen a box of .22LR on the shelves in any store in months.

Check the major online suppliers, most of them are out of stock on almost all primers, many kinds of cases, most kinds of powder, the most popular bullets and virtually all .22LR ammo.

-------------------

Good article. I suspect that we've mostly reached information saturation on it though. Everyone who cares to know the causes already knows and those who don't, don't want to know the truth. Conspiracies are much more entertaining.
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Old October 22, 2013, 04:16 PM   #17
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This is decidedly NOT the case in much (most) of America. I have not seen a box of .22LR on the shelves in any store in months... most of them are out of stock on almost all primers...
I bought a brick on Winchester 555 at my local Walmart last week, albeit at 8am, and I bought a box of 1,000 small pistol primers 2 weeks ago.

I certainly won't argue that the shortage is over, but FWIW the proverbial clouds are certainly clearing in my area. At my local big-box stores, most centerfire rifle ammo is plentiful. .40S&W, .380ACP, .38Spl, .45ACP, and .357Mag (and .17HMR) are spotty but available; there's not a comprehensive selection of types and package sizes, but the stores at least HAVE some. Only 9mm and .22LR still seem to be flying off the shelves as fast as they're stocked.
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Old October 22, 2013, 05:04 PM   #18
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I was in three different WalMarts today.......bought three 50rnd boxes of CCI .22 in each. Each of those three stores had 60-70 boxes in the display case. Prices were normal prepanic prices.

Last Saturday, i went into two different Academy Sports..........both had every centerfire handgun and rifle caliber at prepanic prices with no limit. They still limit rimfire to two boxes when they get it.


The next panic is two years away. In two years we'll still have guys whining about the lack of ammo, DHS, price gougers, Cheaper than Dirt and the Bilderbergs buying up all the ammo.

The same folks who didn't learn from the 08-09 Panic and 12-13 Panic will continue to wonder "where da ammo at?" in 2014.
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Old October 22, 2013, 05:11 PM   #19
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As Brian said, pistol powder (online at least) is very rare these days. I've been checking Natchez and others for months in the hopes of picking up 4 or 8 lbs of a fast pistol powder, but no dice.

I do take exception to at least one thing in the article - "More gun owners means more ammo being shot."

The range I frequent has been hurt by the ammo shortage and is NOT getting the volume of shooters or ammo expended it did a year or two ago. I myself am shooting a lot less, pretty much sticking to my regular weekend matches with no casual shooting in between. I think a lot of other formerly regular shooters are doing the same.

Quote:
I was in three different WalMarts today.......bought three 50rnd boxes of CCI .22 in each. Each of those three stores had 60-70 boxes in the display case. Prices were normal prepanic prices.
Maybe, but that's not the situation here in Florida. Bricks or 50-round boxes of standard plinking .22LR ammo are just not to be found.
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Old October 22, 2013, 09:43 PM   #20
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The federal government buys little to no 22lr.
Rimfire is made on different lines than center fire.
If it was gov't buying rimfire would still be available, but it is the least available.
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Old October 23, 2013, 07:03 AM   #21
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"I already know that factories/staff/logistics do not pop up in 24 hours but these major companies like ATK, Black Hills, Hornady etc have dealt with increased sales & production demands for 4/5 years."

yep. The problem is, what happens on the other end? When gun owners finally get their heads out of their panicky butts and stop buying?

Companies have to take into consideration what happens when the panic dies down. Can they afford to shutter lines? What do they do with them? Hold them in reserve just in case gun owners wig out again? That's expensive as hell because they not only have to maintain the equipment, they now have to service the debt that they took on expand those lines in the first place.

Unlike the panic hoarders, these companies have to take into account what MIGHT happen in the future.

And the American economic landscape is absolutely littered with the corpses of companies that guessed wrong.

I'd rather that these companies be a bit on the conservative side and puruse a reasoned course of operations as opposed to rushing around and overexpanding to their post-panic detriment just because they focus on Johnny the Panicky Jackass who's running around stoping his feet and screaming at the top of his lungs how it's horrible that he can't buy 50,000 rounds of ammo RIGHT NOW because he needs it to hold off the hoards of baby-blue-helmeted UN robot soldiers who are coming to take his guns.

Your REAL angst shouldn't be with the manufacturers.

It should be with a significant portion of your fellow gunowners. They've created this mess by being worse than herds of lemmings.
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Old October 23, 2013, 09:12 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamNavy
So I hate to break it to them, but the ammunition shortage has been over for at least a few months now. It was really over for us regular guys back around mid-July (or even late-June), with everything you could want available dozens of places online... albeit with outrageous prices, but still plentiful.
The ammunition shortage is NOT over when every time I go into any of the three or four Wal-Marts within my normal circulation pattern there is NO .22LR ammo, NO rifle ammo, and NO handgun ammo.

The shortage will be over when ordinary people can once again walk into Wal-Mart at any time on any day and find ammo in the caliber they need, in stock on the shelves.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Irwin
Your REAL angst shouldn't be with the manufacturers.

It should be with a significant portion of your fellow gunowners. They've created this mess by being worse than herds of lemmings.
This. Exactly.

Especially those who grab up everything the moment it hits the shelves at Wal-Mart (which, to its credit, has not jacked its prices), and within 24 hours that same ammo is on Craig's List at double the price.

Last edited by Aguila Blanca; October 23, 2013 at 10:55 AM.
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Old October 23, 2013, 09:29 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by "Mike Irwin'
baby-blue-helmeted UN robot soldiers
Ahem, I believe the term is robin's egg blue.

That being said, the ammo shortage won't be over for me until I can call the CMP in March and get my 5,000 rounds of .22 LR in May for summer camp.
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Old October 23, 2013, 11:08 AM   #24
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Quote:
The ammunition shortage is NOT over when every time I go into any of the three or four Wal-Marts within my normal circulation pattern there is NO .22LR ammo, NO, rifle ammo, and NO handgun ammo.

The shortage will be over when ordinary people can once again walk into Wal-Mart at any time on any day and find ammo in the caliber they need, in stock on the shelves.
Isn't that kinda like saying there's a F-150 shortage because the closest Ford dealer is 100 miles away and you don't like the Manager and refuse to shop there, and now you have to drive twice as far or settle for a Chevy?

I'm not an economics major and maybe I'm being a little dense (please tell me), but just because every store across the whole country isn't busting at the seams with stocked shelves doesn't mean ammo isn't available to the average person with a click of the mouse or a drive... so while you might have to take an afternoon and head a few counties over to get that special truck you want, you might have to do the same to get ammo... but it's there.

So I guess if we collectively want to say "there's still a ammo shortage" within the technical definition of whatever chapter in Economics 101 that covers supply&demand, I guess thats fine... but I think it would be as accurate to say there's just as much a shortage of motivated buyers who say "I can't find any", when they really mean, "I don't want to wait 3 days and pay 50% more than I did last year."

I also think that since many parts of the country are getting regular shipments to the point that there is inventory on the shelves, and yet some areas are still dry, that there are distribution decisions being made with the retailers that contribute to this.

I read an interesting set of numbers in an Ammoland article:

“Take for example .22LR ammunition. The industry as a whole (all manufacturers combined) is setup to produce 4,200,000,000 (4.2 Billions) .22 LR annually. That is running all the machines, full capacity all the time, all manufacturers together.

There is NOTHING they can do to produce more.

That corresponds to 230,137 cartridge per State per day, which is 460 bricks of 500 .22lr per day per State. That means that if less than 50 people per day in each State are buying 10 bricks of .22, it is enough to dry up the entire supply as it is being manufactured.”
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Old October 23, 2013, 11:53 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SamNavy
Isn't that kinda like saying there's a F-150 shortage because the closest Ford dealer is 100 miles away and you don't like the Manager and refuse to shop there, and now you have to drive twice as far or settle for a Chevy?

I'm not an economics major and maybe I'm being a little dense (please tell me), but just because every store across the whole country isn't busting at the seams with stocked shelves doesn't mean ammo isn't available to the average person with a click of the mouse or a drive... so while you might have to take an afternoon and head a few counties over to get that special truck you want, you might have to do the same to get ammo... but it's there.

So I guess if we collectively want to say "there's still a ammo shortage" within the technical definition of whatever chapter in Economics 101 that covers supply&demand, I guess thats fine... but I think it would be as accurate to say there's just as much a shortage of motivated buyers who say "I can't find any", when they really mean, "I don't want to wait 3 days and pay 50% more than I did last year."
Well, yeah, you're being a little dense. A shortage is when something isn't readily available on average, when supply can't keep up with demand. If the average person has to go out of their way to get something that used to be available at every store that sold such things, it a shortage. That's pretty much the definition.

Ammo isn't extinct. Of course it can still be had but it's no where close to as available as it was 1 year or most especially 2 or 3 years ago.

Your own example illustrates exactly what a shortage is and why there is one.

That's a shortage. There is far more demand than supply.
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